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Richard Devine
Lipswitch
Schematic

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Richard Devine's music scares me. I'm not talking about the fact that it sometimes sounds very dark and ominous; hell, if I had a nickel for every dark, ominous album in my collection, I'd be able to buy a bunch more. No, what bothers me is the nature of the music. Permit me to explain.

One one hand, pieces like "Scatter Fold 28" epitomize the cold, mechanical side of electronic music. Devine's work is stylistically similar to the hard, metallic rhythms favored by Photek, though his songs are far more detailed. Each burble, blip and clang connects to an even smaller piece of the song, which in turn branches further, like a sketch of some complex neural net. It's the sort of thing robots dance to; humans don't have enough joints. Neither are we truly built for listening, for each of Devine's tunes is like an insidious recursive equation, trapping rash minds in helical swirls of computational rhythm data.

But in spite of the music's sterility, it has a human side. "Block Variation," "Lens Align" and several other tracks have undeniable organic qualities, though they've been pulled outside the meatspace context. The non-mechanical noises here sound like they've been incorporated into the body of a vast musical cyborg, their organic functions irrelevant to the operation of the clockwork parts but retained as a concession to instinct.

Devine, a skater-turned-musician, is the human responsible for writing the equation, for coding the mechanical DNA. I can picture him building these impossibly intricate mechanical puzzle-beings, then winding them up, letting them go and watching each one wreak intellectual overload. It's a variation on Battlebots in which the song goes after your ears with malice aforethought. You'd better be ready.

Some day, when we all have wireless terabit ethernet sockets in our foreheads and "privacy" means restricting user access to certain public sections of your cerebral cortex, this will be the only music we listen to. And that scares me too.

-- George Zahora
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